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New exhibits at PSC explore puzzles, problem-solving and design

  • Written by Deborah Stone
PSCBikeRace
Photo courtesy of Pacific Science Center Kids can select a race course to ride their bikes in a virtual competition against two other participants.
Puzzles, problem-solving and design are the focus of two new exhibits at Pacific Science Center.

First up is “Design Zone,” where visitors can go behind the scenes and see how video game developers, music producers, roller coaster designers and other problem solvers use math and science to create their magic.

The exhibition is organized into three interactive areas: engineering and speed; art, architecture and video game design; and music and sound.

Each highlights the relationship between mathematical thinking and the creative process via hands-on stations that provide opportunities for kids to solve real-world challenges and discover some of math’s many applications.

In “MUSIC – Hear It!” kids can step into the DJ Recording Studio, On Stage and Dance Party areas and hear the math in the music, while exploring relationships between length and pitch in musical instruments, ratios and rhythms and visual representations of sound. They can put together music tracks, match beats on a set of simulated turntables and create a laser light show at a virtual dance party among the many hands-on activities.

Over in “ART – See It!” visitors will enter the Videogame Design Lab, the Architecture Studio and the Digital Design zone to find out how visual designers use scale, pattern, coordinate grids, equality and slope to turn their ideas into reality. They’ll get to see their own 2D and 3D designs emerge on an enormous coordinate grid, set variables in a video game and find their way through a digital maze on a giant tilt table.

In “ACTION – Move It!” kids make their way to the Theme Park and Action Sports Arena where they can build their own custom digital roller coaster, design their own skate park and select a race course to ride their bikes in a virtual competition against two other participants.

Once they’ve had the chance to explore “Design Zone,” visitors will want to take a look at the challenging world of “Puzzle Palooza Featuring Groovik’s Cube,” an exhibit chock-full of puzzles and brainteasers guaranteed to challenge the brain power and problem-solving skills of even the most astute and experienced puzzlers.

At the center of this display is the enormous, interactive “Groovik’s Cube,” a fully playable 35-feet high sculpture inspired by the classic puzzle, Rubik’s Cube. Illuminated with LED lights, the “Cube” is controlled from three stations surrounding the main structure.

It can be played by one to three players. In the three-player mode, each participant is able to rotate only a single axis, creating an entirely new, collaborative puzzle-solving experience.

Both “Design Zone” and “Puzzle Palooza” provide healthy brain food for kids of all ages and are eye-openers to a world where math is more than simply a subject in school.

“Design Zone” and “Puzzle Pallooza Featuring Groovik’s Cube” run through January 2, 2012. For more information: (206) 443-2001 or www.pacificsciencecenter.org.

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